March 21, 2006 at 12:00 PM EST

On last night’s episode of The New Adventures of Old Christine, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ title divorcée resisted being set up on a blind date by her friend Barb (the invaluable Wanda Sykes) because she didn’t want to try to find chemistry with someone new in an artificial and awkward situation; she wanted it to happen naturally and spontaneously. (Of course, she ended up going the blind-date route anyway, with mixed results.)

It was a good metaphor for the show itself. After the Seinfeld gang broke up, Louis-Dreyfus sought chemistry and spontaneity with an audience via 2002’s experimental Watching Ellie, but that Seinfeld magic is hard to find twice. (Thus the ”Seinfeld curse” that seemed to befall the cast’s repeatedly failed attempts at solo sitcom stardom since their seminal show’s signoff eight years ago.) So Louis-Dreyfus has settled for a set-up: a conventional sitcom about a divorced mom juggling family, career, and romance.

And whaddya know? It’s working out. Not only have the reviews been kind, but the audience has actually grown since last week’s debut, CBS says. Monday’s episode drew an estimated 15.3 million (not bad against Fox’s 24), just 1.6 million fewer than its lead-in, top sitcom Two and a Half Men.

I hope the show continues to do well, not just so we can stop hearing about the Seinfeld curse, but because the show really does play to Louis-Dreyfus’ comic strengths, and it can only get better and sharper.

addCredit(“Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Richard Cartwright”)

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